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  • Sachin Sen

2024 BMW R 12 nineT, and R 12, Show that Evolution is the Best Way Forward

2024 BMW R 12 nineT and R 12
2024 BMW R 12; a new cruiser based on the R 12 nineT

I think it’s reasonable to say that motorcycles requiring the most cutting edge technologies are the ones that are changed radically to become generationally better. Their purpose and the intensity of competition also affect how much they’re changed from its previous version. Take any Superbike for instance.

And then some motorcycles require a more evolutionary approach to maintain their essence in the best way possible, while also bringing them up to modern standards. That’s what the BMW’s R nineT is all about; now evolved into the new R 12 nineT and the R 12 (the all-new cruiser).

The R 12 nineT

2024 BMW R 12 nineT and R 12
2024 BMW R 12 nineT; sharper and better than before

With the new R 12 nineT and the R 12, the focus is more on improving the handling characteristics and the overall riding experience rather than all-out performance; which is why the engine has remained unchanged.

The 1,170cc air/oil-cooled boxer twin is a highly versatile engine powering the BMW’s retro, naked, and sport-touring lineup. It is the reason why the R nineT has always felt so special as a modern-classic. With 110 PS of power at 7,000 RPM for the R 12 nineT, along with 115 NM of torque at 6,500 RPM, the bike is extremely engaging and enjoyable to ride without the mental burden of handling too much power. It is still very quick and fast… of course it is!

The R 12 nineT is what used to be the R nineT, while the R 12 is the new cruiser based on the R 12 nineT. The former comes with wheels that have sport bike profiles; 17-inch wheels and 120/70 front and 180/55 rear. Clearly, the focus is on responsive handling on the road. 

2024 BMW R 12 nineT and R 12
Designed for individuality with many options for customization

The biggest changes in the R 12 nineT are the new chassis and suspension. There’s a completely new one-piece tubular steel space frame to which the rear subframe is now bolted. On the R nineT, the entire frame was divided into four parts; with the front frame being a single part and the rear frame divided into three parts. So the new frame is not only simpler it is also lighter, further aiding handling.

The upside-down front forks are now 45mm, instead of 46mm previously, and they’re fully adjustable for preload, rebound, and compression. The bigger change is at the rear; the R 12 nineT’s Paralever suspension mounts the rear shocker diagonally and it links directly to the swing-arm compared to the vertically-mounted shocker on the R nineT. It is fully adjustable for preload and rebound. Also, the shocker has a hydraulic final stop designed to prevent the hard bottoming out of the spring, which should further improve its compliance on a variety of roads.

The R 12 nineT looks quite identical to the R nine T; however, the new one looks a bit toned physically and that’s due to the redesigned fuel tank having an angular profile compared to the round-ish profile of the previous one.

The R 12

2024 BMW R 12 nineT and R 12
More relaxed riding position and a gentler state of tune of the same 1,170cc boxer-twin

The R 12 slots right below the flagship cruiser R 18 by the name of it. However, that’s not really true; the similarity in the names only standardizes the cruiser lineup more than anything else. While the R 18 uses a traditionally-engineered boxer with the pushrod mechanism to operate the valves, the R 12 uses the R 12 nineT’s DOHC-equipped modern boxer-twin. Furthermore, while the R 18 is designed to be a traditional cruiser, the R 12 is basically the R 12 nineT with the seating ergonomics, suspension, and the wheels modified for a comparatively relaxed riding experience.

Starting with the engine, the same 1,170cc boxer-twin has a gentler state of tune here, and it produces 95 PS or power at 6,500 RPM and 110 NM of torque at 6,000 RPM. The chassis is also the same from the R 12 nineT but here, the steering geometry is more relaxed; thereby, increasing the wheelbase by 9 mm (1520 mm compared to 1511 mm of the R 12 nineT). The seat height on the R 12 is 754 mm (compared to 795 mm on the R 12 nineT). The suspension is more or less the same but with one major difference at the front; the front forks on the R 12 are not adjustable. The rear shocker is exactly the same, offering the same adjustability for preload and rebound. Also, the suspension travel at front/rear is different for the R 12 and the R 12 nineT at 90 mm/90 mm and 120 mm/120 mm, respectively. And true to its cruiser nature, the R 12’s front wheel measures 19 inches and the rear wheel measures 16 inches.

Their Impact on the Category

2024 BMW R 12 nineT and R 12
These motorcycles have an undeniable road presence

The R nine T has always been an excellent and a unique offering in its class, primarily because of its engine which has great character, and as far as I’m concerned, its character is unrivalled. Yes, the Triumph parallel twins with the 270-degree crank are great too, but BMW’s boxer-twin is on a different level when it comes to how it feels to a rider. And the exhaust note only makes the entire experience truly unforgettable.

And now the R 12 nineT and the R 12 promise an overall improved riding dynamics due to the enhancements done to the chassis and suspension. Compared to the Triumph Bonneville lineup, which is BMW’s strongest competitor in this class, the R 12 nineT and the R 12 come across as more premium offerings; although, the Bonnevilles themselves, especially the T120, T100, and the Speed Twin are quite special as well.

It is likely that BMW will bring these two motorcycles to India as the R nine T has been a part of BMW’s India lineup. And when they do, I will make sure that I get to ride them one way or the other.


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